12 Replies Latest reply on May 20, 2013 1:12 PM by Lenny Bucholz

    Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!

    John Biddleston



      I am starting a design project to draw this item:-




      I wish to have maximum control over the model, and I have used SolidWorks since about 1999.


      However, I suspect that this is a surfacing project? And I have not done much product design like this for a while.


      I am unsure as to the best methods to start this item? Should I consider using surfaing, and if so how do I begin?


      Perhaps there is a better way?


      All I know how to do is to carve it from solids, which I think might not be so good. I want to get some nice curves on there, and realy be able to pull and tweak it so that it looks just right.


      Can anyone suggest a point to start, and how to best go about this design in SolidWorks?


      Kind regards,


        • Re: Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!
          Kevin De Smet

          I would highly recommend watching at least one of Mark Biasotti's SolidWorks World presentations. He is the SolidWorks resident expert on Surfacing and Industrial Design. My favourite would be "Everything Curves and Surfaces" which runs about 1h 30m, but every second will be very well worth your time!


          Since the online site only has 2011 up to 2013 presentations, I uploaded this one on Dropbox for you to download. It's an .flv file which can be watched with FLV Player and likely the ubiquitous VLC media player just as good. I wouldn't recommend streaming it from Dropbox, as I have found the video quality can be impacted because of the streaming.




          Yes, your gut instinct hits the nail right on the head. Surfacing is the way to go! watching the presentation and experimenting around for yourself, you should notice it is not nearly as scary at it may seem at first. A solid model is just a surface model that's fully closed. When you are using surfaces, you are generally simply modeling smaller chunks of design intent at a time.

          • Re: Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!
            Jerry Steiger



            Here are some other resources you might want to look into. Charles Culp has a very nice site for tutorials. Look under the Surfacing tab:



            Ed Eaton did a great set of "Curvy Stuff" presentations:



            Ed's presentations run back quite a ways, so the user interface may have changed a bit but the ideas are still very good. The other presentations are also quite good.


            Jerry S.

              • Re: Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!
                John Biddleston

                Thanks Kevin and Jerry,


                I watched the video that Kevin kindly placed on DropBox. ... And I also took at look at the other links and downloaded some examples, which I went though using the rollback tool and examining sketches and features.


                I think that I understand what the various surface tools are, and also how to now use splines and I'll probably avoid 3d sketching for now (unless its the best way to achieve what I need to do).


                However, I need to now work out how to get my sketched curves created in a 3d nest if you will. ... I am not quite sure of the best way, and I would like to dicsuss it.


                I have created an annotated picture here:-


                C2 MARKED UP.png


                I have labelled the faces that we can see in Blue as A & B

                - and I have labelled the curves that are visible on the drawing as 1 to 5 in Red.



                - Face A will be curved in both directions (from line 1-2 gently curving, and also from line 3-4. So I am guessing that this is a Boundry surface? ... However, between the number 3 and the letter A there is a more curved area. So should I just make the Boundly Surface up to the lighter line, between the letter A and the number 3?

                - Face B is likely to be slightly curved, and I will want to control and tweak this. Towards to bottom of face B, there is a slight increase in curvature.

                - The product will split in two. So I am guessing that the split line will follow the combined lines 1,2,3,4 (and the rear of the case, will be a slightly different colour, and texture).


                I need to be able to control this as much as possible, and ideally I would like to model to be parametric. In fact, I think it is essential that for the customer, that I can pull and push faces in and out once the model is complete.


                So, there are many options:-

                - I need to choose the right way to start


                Should I:

                1. Create curves 1,2,3,4 in one continuous 3d sketch? Then boundry or fill?

                2. Or, should I start by creating some Intersection Curves for the lines 2 and 5, make up from 2d sketches? ... But then how do I link line 3 to it properly?

                3. Or should I try to make Surface B as a Surface Extrude, up from a sketch, and then try to project the lines 2 & 5 on to it. Then trim away the excess. But then how do I build the line 3? ... Maybe I can make the ends of line 3 match up with the base of Sketch line 2? ... I am guessing that this is the way to go?


                I only have limited time to experement, as I work for myself. And also by Monday I have to

                (a) draw up a punch tool

                (b) design another (simpler) consumer item concept

                (c) write some instructions for a new product

                (d) write up a complex quote for electonics work

                (e) get an item on the 3d printer


                Lol. Probably some more stuff. ... I am going to try method 3, but I could really benefit from some experienced advice.


                Kind regards,


              • Re: Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!
                Robert Stupplebeen


                I would suggest checking out this simple model I made a while back. It will go through some of the basics on creating smooth curvy shapes with symmetry. I hope this helps.

                Rob Stupplebeen


                • Re: Need help getting started with surfacing on interesting design!
                  Lenny Bucholz

                  can you put some pics of the top, front and side to get a better view?